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Hong Kong protesters pull back

HONG KONG — Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists agreed Sunday to remove some barriers blocking roads and sidewalks ahead of the government's deadline to scale back their protests. But the demonstrators appeared to be divided, and others refused to budge, with only hours to go.

An alliance of students said it had tried but so far failed to reach agreement with officials on a plan to begin talks on their demands for wider political reforms. The group vowed to continue protests until details of the talks might be worked out.

"If the government uses force to clear away protesters, there will be no room for dialogue," Lester Shum, one of the group's leaders, told reporters.

Earlier in the day, students occupying the area outside city government headquarters agreed to remove some barricades that were blocking the entrance, after the government said it would do whatever was necessary to ensure 3,000 civil servants would have full access to their offices today.

The partial withdrawal appeared to be part of a strategy to regroup elsewhere, as protesters were urged to shift from other areas to Hong Kong's Admiralty shopping and business district, a location near the government's main offices that has served as an informal headquarters for the protests.